The latest job numbers in August delivered more bad news for the millions of Americans who are out of work, underemployed, or looking for gainful employment. And as CNN/Money reports, the situation for Black workers has grown more severe.
Black unemployment surged to 16.7% in August, its highest level since 1984, while the unemployment rate for whites fell slightly to 8%, the Labor Department reported.
The disparity in unemployment between Black and White workers has long persisted, and according to experts, racial discrimination remains a real factor:
“Even when you compare black and white workers, same age range, same education, you still see pretty significant gaps in unemployment rates,” said Algernon Austin, director of the Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy program at the Economic Policy Institute. “So I do think the fact of racial discrimination in the labor market continues to play a role.”
The persistence of high unemployment in the U.S. has added urgency to President Obama’s call last week for Congress to pass the American Jobs Act. While the current political environment is anything but ideal, there remains a need for the voting public to take action in calling on Congress to support the American Jobs Act now.
As Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference, said following Obama’s speech on jobs:
President Obama’s American Jobs Act contains a number of strong proposals that will help reduce unemployment in the short term, and put our nation on a more solid economic footing in the long term. They are proposals that can and should receive strong bipartisan support – even in today’s contentious political climate – and Congress should act on them without delay.
As our economy continues to struggle to regain its footing, President Obama’s proposal to put Americans back to work is particularly important to the communities that we represent. In July, the unemployment rate for African Americans and Hispanics stood at 15.9 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively — both well above the national average. Young Americans and those without a high school diploma also continue to struggle far more than other groups of Americans. Our nation cannot afford to have any group of people left behind.
The American Jobs Act targets the areas of our economy that have the most immediate impact on reducing unemployment: infrastructure, housing, education, neighborhood revitalization, tax relief, small businesses, and the safety nets that support struggling families and strengthen the economy for everyone. Now is the time for Congress and the administration to take bold, sweeping action to put Americans back to work.